The next chapter of WA’s liquor laws — have your say

The State Government, through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC) is reviewing and modernising the liquor laws, policies, online systems and information in Western Australia (WA).

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Regulation of liquor in Western Australia

Liquor in Western Australia is regulated under the following:

The Act and Regulations regulate the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol, and aim to minimise harm or ill-health caused to people due to the use of alcohol. The legislation is supported by liquor policies, which provide additional guidance on Act and regulations.

Liquor licensing decisions and disciplinary matters are determined by the licensing authority — the Director of Liquor Licensing (DLL) and the Liquor Commission.

The DLL is a statutory position held by the chief executive officer of DLGSC that assists with administration of the Act. The DLL, who has powers of delegation, makes most decisions about liquor licensing applications and other matters.

The Liquor Commission determines, or reviews complex liquor licensing matters, including complaints, awarding of costs, and provides policy advice relating to liquor control. The Liquor Commission Rules regulate the practice and procedure of the Liquor Commission and matters that are related and subject to the Regulations.

DLGSC inspectors (under delegation from the DLL) and officers from the Western Australian Police Force manage the compliance and enforcement of liquor laws across Western Australia.

A diagram showing the Liquor Control Act 1988 and related regulations and policies.

Purpose of the reforms

Major liquor reforms in 2006 and 2018 saw the introduction of small bars in WA and an increased focus on tourism-friendly culture. In February 2021, the Premier committed to:

continue this program of reform by undertaking consultation with the hospitality industry and other stakeholders to inform further amendments to the Liquor Control Act. 

A range of potential improvements will be considered, including a simpler licensing system to reflect changing business models and community expectations, as well as a more rapid and cheaper approvals process.

This review is broad and looks to modernise the Act, regulations, and policies, as well as the supporting online systems and information. Through this review, the State Government is seeking to:

  • identify what is working well with the current regulatory framework
  • identify any issues the industry, government and community have with the current framework
  • explore reform ideas from our stakeholders to improve the current regulatory framework.

DLGSC will seek stakeholder views on the proposed reforms before making recommendations to the Minister.

Reform proposals

Reform proposals were generated from DLGSC’s observations as the regulator of liquor laws, as well as feedback from key interest groups. Further reform ideas may be identified from consultation.

Reform proposals have been grouped into the following themes:

1. Improved licensing framework — reduce red tape and maximise opportunities for industry

Proposals that simplify the licensing framework, creating efficiencies for industry and the regulator: 

  • Review licence categories.
  • Review exemptions, restrictions and conditions on licences to make it easier to do business.
  • Minimise the administrative burden associated with having a licence.
  • Simplify application and approval processes, as well as the obligations imposed by licensing regulators and other organisations (e.g. local government, Department of Health).
  • Improve the liquor policies.

2. Modernised legislation and structural reform 

Reforms to the regulatory framework and to modernise the structure of the Act and regulations:

  • Review the role and functions of the Director of Liquor Licensing and Liquor Commission.
  • Modernise the structure of the Act and regulations.
  • Make administrative amendments and remove redundant laws.

3. Enhanced harm minimisation, enforcement and compliance 

Reforms to enhance enforcement tools, powers and penalties, encouraging compliance amongst operators:

  • Review the powers of authorised officers, inspectors and police.
  • Explore the use of an incentive and demerit point system to reward compliant licensees.
  • Review penalties to encourage greater compliance.

4. Simpler systems 

Reforms to licensing and compliance online systems, to streamline processes:

  • Replace the licensing and compliance system.
  • Explore the use of an online portal providing a single source of information and online approvals.

5. Stronger industry education and information

Reforms to industry education, guidance and communication:

  • Improve website information.
  • Develop new licensee education material.
  • Better communication with licensees.
Liquor Reform one page overview with the information about all the themes mentioned above.

More information

More detail on the reforms will be made available via newsletters, surveys and the public consultation paper, The Next Chapter of WA's Liquor Laws — have your say.

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Have your say

DLGSC is interested in hearing from you. You can have your say on our proposed reform ideas and provide us with new reform ideas by:

Submissions close 4pm Tuesday 31 January 2023. 

DLGSC will consult throughout the process. If you would like to be added to our distribution list, please sign up for notifications.

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Page reviewed 09 February 2023